Emergency procedure

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An emergency procedure is a plan of actions to be conducted in a certain order or manner, in response to a specific class of reasonably foreseeable emergency, a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or the environment. [1] Where a range of emergencies are reasonably foreseeable, an emergency plan may be drawn up to manage each threat. Most emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent a worsening of the situation, although in some situations, mitigation may not be possible and agencies may only be able to offer palliative care for the aftermath. The emergency plan should allow for these possibilities.

Emergency situation such as a natural or man-made disaster requiring urgent assistance

An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment. Most emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent a worsening of the situation, although in some situations, mitigation may not be possible and agencies may only be able to offer palliative care for the aftermath.

Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in which disease and infirmity are absent.

Life Characteristic that distinguishes physical entities having biological processes

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential synthetic life as "living". Biology is the science concerned with the study of life.



Organizations are frequently required to have written emergency procedures in place to comply with statutory requirements; [2] demands from their insurers, their regulatory agency, shareholders, stakeholders and unions; to protect staff, the public, the environment, the business, their property and their reputation.[ citation needed ]

A regulatory agency is a public authority or government agency responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity. An independent regulatory agency is a regulatory agency that is independent from other branches or arms of the government.

Risk assessment

Before preparing a procedure, it may be appropriate to carry out a risk assessment, estimating how likely it is for an emergency event to occur and if it does, how serious or damaging the consequences would be. The emergency procedure should provide an appropriate and proportionate response to this situation. A risk assessment is usually in the style of a table, which rates a risk on its likelihood and severity.

Broadly speaking, a risk assessment is the combined effort of:

  1. identifying and analyzing potential (future) events that may negatively impact individuals, assets, and/or the environment ; and
  2. making judgments "on the tolerability of the risk on the basis of a risk analysis" while considering influencing factors.

Testing and training

An emergency procedure identifies the responsibilities, actions and resources necessary to deal with an emergency. Once drafted, a procedure may require a consultative period with those who could be involved or affected by the emergency, and a programme set out for testing, training and periodic review.

Controlled issuance

When an emergency procedure is revised and reissued, previous versions must be withdrawn from point of use to avoid confusion. For the same reason, a revision numbering system and a schedule of amendments are frequently used with procedures to reduce the potential for errors and misunderstandings. [3]

Style and complexity

The document itself may be just a few lines, perhaps using bullet points, flow charts or it may be a detailed set of instructions and diagrams, dependent on the complexity of the situation and the capabilities of those responsible for implementing the procedure during the emergency. [4]

Business continuity planning

Business continuity planning may also feed off of the emergency procedures, enabling an organization to identify points of vulnerability and minimise the risk to the business by preparing backup plans and improving resilience. The act of producing the procedures may also highlight failings in current arrangements that if corrected, could reduce the risk levels.

Business continuity planning

Business continuity planning is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery.

Escalating situations

Even with a well documented and well practised procedure using trained staff, there is still the potential for events to spiral out of control, often due to unpredicted scenarios or a coincidence of events. There are many well documented examples of this such as: Three Mile Island accident, the Chernobyl disaster and the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion in April 2010. In a press release by BP on the 8 September 2010, BP's outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward said of this: The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident. It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy.[ full citation needed ]


It is common practise with emergency procedures to have review processes where the lessons learnt from previous emergencies, changing circumstances, changes in personnel, contact details, etc. can be incorporated into the latest version of the documentation.


Some typical emergency procedures are:

Other potential emergencies that may affect an organisation include the following

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Emergency management is the organization and management of the resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies. The aim is to reduce the harmful effects of all hazards, including disasters.

Given organizations' increasing dependency on information technology to run their operations, Business continuity planning covers the entire organization, and Disaster recovery focuses on IT.

An incident is an event that could lead to loss of, or disruption to, an organization's operations, services or functions. Incident management (IcM) is a term describing the activities of an organization to identify, analyze, and correct hazards to prevent a future re-occurrence. These incidents within a structured organization are normally dealt with by either an incident response team (IRT), an incident management team (IMT), or Incident Command System (ICS). Without effective incident management, an incident can disrupt business operations, information security, IT systems, employees, customers, or other vital business functions.

A preventive action is a change implemented to address a weakness in a management system that is not yet responsible for causing nonconforming product or service.

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, more commonly called the National Contingency Plan or NCP, is the United States federal government's blueprint for responding to oil spills and hazardous substance releases. It documents national response capability and is intended to promote overall coordination among the hierarchy of responders and contingency plans.

A job safety analysis (JSA) is a procedure which helps integrate accepted safety and health principles and practices into a particular task or job operation. In a JSA, each basic step of the job is to identify potential hazards and to recommend the safest way to do the job. Other terms used to describe this procedure are job hazard analysis (JHA) and job hazard breakdown.

The technique for human error-rate prediction (THERP) is a technique used in the field of human reliability assessment (HRA), for the purposes of evaluating the probability of a human error occurring throughout the completion of a specific task. From such analyses measures can then be taken to reduce the likelihood of errors occurring within a system and therefore lead to an improvement in the overall levels of safety. There exist three primary reasons for conducting an HRA: error identification, error quantification and error reduction. As there exist a number of techniques used for such purposes, they can be split into one of two classifications: first-generation techniques and second-generation techniques. First-generation techniques work on the basis of the simple dichotomy of ‘fits/doesn’t fit’ in matching an error situation in context with related error identification and quantification. Second generation techniques are more theory-based in their assessment and quantification of errors. ‘HRA techniques have been utilised for various applications in a range of disciplines and industries including healthcare, engineering, nuclear, transportation and business.

The powers of the fire service in the United Kingdom are extensive, but vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. These powers generally only apply to members of public fire and rescue services. Powers are granted to firefighters in England & Wales by virtue of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, in Scotland by virtue of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and in Northern Ireland by virtue of the Fire and Rescue Services Order 2006. Whilst the three acts are almost identical in effect, they word the powers differently and vary in relation to the issuance of warrants.

In Emergency Management, higher learning institutions must frequently adapt broad, varied policies to deal with the unique scope of disasters that can occur in on-campus settings. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires are among some of the most common natural disasters that possess the capacity for large losses of life and property, with the potential to effectively destroy a university community. Man-made crises also can pose a serious threat to life and property, as was evident in the case of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. In order to preemptively reduce or prevent the severity of emergency situations, universities must coordinate and implement policies to effectively eliminate unnecessary risks' and decrease potential losses.

Human factors are the physical or cognitive properties of individuals, or social behavior which is specific to humans, and influence functioning of technological systems as well as human-environment equilibria. The safety of underwater diving operations can be improved by reducing the frequency of human error and the consequences when it does occur. Human error can be defined as an individual's deviation from acceptable or desirable practice which culminates in undesirable or unexpected results.

Dive safety is primarily a function of four factors: the environment, equipment, individual diver performance and dive team performance. The water is a harsh and alien environment which can impose severe physical and psychological stress on a diver. The remaining factors must be controlled and coordinated so the diver can overcome the stresses imposed by the underwater environment and work safely. Diving equipment is crucial because it provides life support to the diver, but the majority of dive accidents are caused by individual diver panic and an associated degradation of the individual diver's performance. - M.A. Blumenberg, 1996

Diver training Processes by which people develop the skills and knowledge to dive safely underwater

Diver training is the set of processes through which a person learns the necessary and desirable skills to safely dive underwater within the scope of the diver training standard relevant to the specific training programme. Most diver training follows procedures and schedules laid down in the associated training standard, in a formal training programme, and includes relevant foundational knowledge of the underlying theory, including some basic physics, physiology and environmental information, practical skills training in the selection and safe use of the associated equipment in the specified underwater environment, and assessment of the required skills and knowledge deemed necessary by the certification agency to allow the newly certified diver to dive within the specified range of conditions at an acceptable level of risk. Recognition of prior learning is allowed in some training standards.

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Emergency response in a museum refers to the measures and decisions needed to prepare for and respond to museum-specific emergencies. Certain action steps are taken to mitigate building, exhibition, and artifact damage, as well as any life loss. While there are prescribed methods for museum emergency response, ultimately each cultural institution should customize and periodically re-evaluate their disaster response and salvage plan to meet available resources and personnel abilities.

Diving safety is the aspect of underwater diving operations and activities concerned with the safety of the participants. The safety of underwater diving depends on four factors: the environment, the equipment, behaviour of the individual diver and performance of the dive team. The underwater environment can impose severe physical and psychological stress on a diver, and is mostly beyond the diver's control. Equipment is used to operate underwater for anything beyond very short periods, and the reliable function of some of the equipment is critical to even short term survival. Other equipment allows the diver to operate in relative comfort and efficiency. The performance of the individual diver depends on learned skills, many of which are not intuitive, and the performance of the team depends on competence, communication and common goals.

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The operations manual is the documentation by which an organisation provides guidance for members and employees to perform their functions correctly and reasonably efficiently. It documents the approved standard procedures for performing operations safely to produce goods and provide services. Compliance with the operations manual will generally be considered as activity approved by the persons legally responsible for the organisation.


  1. "UK Government Advice on Definition of an Emergency" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
  2. (UK) The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 regulation 8
  3. ISO 9000:2008 section 4.2.3 defines a system for document control
  4. (USA) OSHA Emergency action planning